Pirates: The Captain Kidd Story, a new exhibition at the Museum of London Docklands
, opens 20 May 2011. Focusing on the legendary privateer turned pirate, Captain Kidd, the exhibition reveals the surprising truth of how Londons corrupt political activities were entrenched in piracy. The launch date also coincides with the anniversary of Captain Kidds execution on 23 May 1701 in Wapping.
From cannons and hidden treasure maps to female pirates and gibbet cages, the exhibition will explore the myths and mysteries surrounding common perceptions of pirates. 17th and 18th century English society will also be explored, looking at gruesome ritual executions and the greed and manipulation of the infamous East India Company.
Over 170 objects will be displayed, including:
Kidds last letter with the promise of hidden treasure
A real pirate flag, the Admiralty Marshall's Silver Oar and a gibbet cage
A Vivienne Westwood outfit from her seminal 1981 Pirates collection
An original 1724 edition of Captain Johnson's History of the Pyrates
An early 18th century cannon
Images of the Quedah Merchant ship wreck, the vessel that was captured by Scottish privateer, William "Captain" Kidd on January 30, 1698. On 23 May the Indiana University will place a dedication plaque on the actual shipwreck.
Tom Wareham, Curator of Maritime History at the Museum of London Docklands, said: Pirates: The Captain Kidd Story will help people understand the close connection between the pirates of the high seas and the London that funded their activities. The skull and crossbones may not have fluttered over ships in the Thames, but many of the pirates themselves were here at one time or another. Our most famous pirate, Captain Kidd, was enmeshed in intrigue that involved corrupt MPs and the mighty East India Company. This exhibition will not only tell Kidds story but use some of his actual letters and documents to help bring him back to life.
Hilary Davidson, Curator Fashion & Decorative Arts at the Museum of London adds: The story of Captain Kidd helped create much of the pirate mythology weve known and loved since the Golden Age of piracy. Kidds legacy is found in every tale of buried treasure and with his contemporaries in crime, like Blackbeard, inspired vivid characters from Long John Silver to Captain Jack Sparrow. The exhibition also reveals the remarkable breadth of pirate treasure plundered from ships bound for Londons luxury goods markets.
Tom Wareham, Curator of Maritime & Community History at the Museum of London Docklands
Hilary Davidson, Curator Fashion & Decorative Arts at the Museum of London
Alex Werner, Head of History Collections at the Museum of London
David Spence, Director of Programmes at the Museum of London
Angus Konstam, external advisor, historian and pirate expert
Pirates: The Captain Kidd Story opens on Friday 20 May 2011 at the Museum of London Docklands and runs until Sunday 30 October 2011.